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  • Writer's pictureTimothy Laku

3 in 5 Youth in Africa are unemployed. Can the gig economy be the panacea for unemployment?

Young people on the continent are the most adversely affected by unemployment. On XFM this week, we continued with our series on Digital for Development.

We looked at how a thriving gig economy can create decent work for the Youth and drive economic growth for countries in Africa.

DJ Cisse, Maritza, and Timothy. Can the gig economy be the panacea for Youth unemployment?

Despite significant efforts from governments and investors around Africa, traditional jobs will not be created quickly enough to absorb the 122 million new entrants to the African labor market over the next two years.

Youth unemployment is an urgent issue that needs to be addressed across the continent. As leaders, we need to start looking at how this problem can be addressed by leveraging the opportunities that come when we embrace digital commerce.

Digital commerce has to be part of the solution as it could raise labor-force participation, provide opportunities for the unemployed, or even boost productivity. The gig economy certainly offers numerous opportunities for the Youth.

McKinsey & Company estimates that 63% of the total labor force in Africa engages in some form of self-employment and 3 in 5 are the Youth. Most of these opportunities are shifting to the digital economy.

What is this gig economy?

The concept of creating an income from "freelancing" has been around for a long time. The term “gig economy” was popularized around the height of the 2008-2009 financial crisis when millions were facing unemployment.

The term "gig" is a slang word meaning "a job for a specified period of time" and traditionally was used in referring to entertainers, musicians, and artists. Sometimes called a "side hustle"

A study by Harvard Business Review found that approximately 150 million workers in North America and Western Europe have left the relatively stable confines of organizational life to work as independent contractors.

The gig economy is a way of working that is based on people having temporary jobs or doing separate pieces of work, each paid separately, rather than working for an employer

Gig economy workers don’t have human bosses. They work for apps. Be it ride-hailing, delivery services, personal errand services, hospitality, or entertainment.

Including independent contractors; consultants; people who moonlight by driving for Uber or Lyft; freelancers who are paid to complete discrete projects for larger organizations; musicians; photographers; writers; truck drivers; tradespeople.

Working 9 to 5 for a single employer bears little resemblance to the way a substantial share of the workforce makes a living today. Millions of people assemble various work independently, rather than in structured payroll jobs.

How do you thrive in the gig economy?

Success in the gig economy comes from a balance between viability (the promise of continued work) and vitality (feeling present, authentic, and alive in your work)

  1. Find a place that inspires your creativity

  2. Stick to a routine that enhances your sense of order & control

  3. Find your purpose and take only work that connects to this broader purpose

In Closing

Beyond just the consumers benefiting from greater availability of services & improved matching that fulfills their needs, the gig economy could raise labor-force participation, provide opportunities for the unemployed, or even boost productivity.

Tune in to Digital Thursday on XFM 94.8 from 9 am to 10 am

Be part of the conversation on Twitter @timothylaku and follow the hashtags below



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